Last Updated on June 1, 2023 by Kelsey Polosino
Does going abroad make you forget how to do the simple things like exercise and eat right? While studying abroad you can feel as though you are in a dream; traveling to diverse towns and countries, eating delicious foreign foods, getting into all sorts of adventures, and constantly meeting new people. However, sometimes the business of being abroad makes it easy to forget the simple things like taking care of your body.
Let’s not forget, working out or eating healthy does not have to be an unwanted task. Keeping your body healthy while abroad is very important, especially so you keep your immune system strong and don’t get sick. You need to stay healthy in order to take advantage of every opportunity possible. Keeping your body in shape may be a lot easier than you think. There tend to be gyms to workout at nearby your living quarters that you can receive student discounts at, you can always go for a run or walk outside, up a volcano or take a hike up a mountain. Be adventurous! Go kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, biking around the city, snorkeling, walking around your town (with friends of course), go swimming in the ocean or a lake nearby, or join club, intramural, or pick-up teams through your school! There are many ways to exercise without it feeling like a burden rather than something you enjoy. Wake up early in the morning to go for a run as the sun goes up and experience the place you now live in, in a different view. The hardest part to working out is putting on those running shoes and getting out the door, but you’ll find when you do that, it is very rewarding, not only to stay in shape but to learn more about your country as you do it. You may find a secret park to do homework at or a great spot to watch the sun go down, you never know.
“I used running as a tool for adventure” –Zach Finer (Rome, Italy)
“Playing field hockey abroad was really great for two big reasons. First, it obviously helped me stay in shape. It was sometimes hard to find motivation to workout amidst traveling, classes, and exploring London. But when you have a coach and teammates and a practice schedule it gives you some structure to make you keep up with your fitness. And second, it really helped me bond with locals and experience the culture from a different perspective. Probably 75% of the British slang I learned was from the girls and women on my team and my coach.” –Morgan Mazanec (London, England)
Next is tackling eating healthy, which may not be the easiest. Don’t feel you have to eat the healthiest meal on the menu each time; you are abroad so enjoy splurging every once in a while! If you tend to splurge a little more than once in a while no worries, compensate by running around the city a little more or by doing your preferred exercise routine. One simple way to snack healthy is eating the native fruits, vegetables, or nuts grown right there in your host country. This means that they will be fresh and most likely cheaper than you are used to, so it is also affordable. For example, I studied abroad in Costa Rica where the fruit is fresh, cheap, and DELICIOSO. Going to the local markets will easily introduce you to the locals, the language, and a world of fresh foods. My friends and I would buy bananas, coconuts, papaya, and avocados each day for snacks. Believe me, eating the native fruits and vegetables will open your eyes to new and mouthwatering foods. Something I tried when I was abroad was the inner core of certain palm trees called palmito that my mama tica (host mother) used for some of her dishes and was grown right there in Costa Rica. It became my favorites and I crave it all the time here in the United States because it is something not sold here. Enjoy the food while you can because study abroad flies by, but you’ll find that even doing the simple things such as eating local and exercising can be the most rewarding by immersing yourself in the culture of your country even more.
This post was written by Mackenzie Hudson, an alum who studied abroad with AIFS in San José, Costa Rica.